Monday, 24 September 2018

On challenging a soundbite world. Jo Carroll

Has our lovely summer really drawn to a windy end? Can we not hope for a few more surprised, hot days before we dig out the thermal vests and furry slippers?

What have you done this summer? Me? I’ve spent a lot of it thinking. What a glorious way to spend one’s time: reflecting. Not only on the work in progress, the cricket scores, the Brexit shambles - but everything in between. From the outside, nothing has changed, but I feel enriched by the hours of silent thought.

But, while I’m revelling in all this thinking, I’m not selling books. There are no Facebook smiles for posting, ‘I’m living in my head for a while, and I’m very happy there.’

Stepping on from that, there are not Facebook emojis for, ‘I want to go away and think about this, and then maybe decide for myself’, nor , ‘This is complicated, I’m going to read more about the subject and come back to you.’ Nor, ‘please can give me more evidence.’

I’m fighting a soundbite world. We are repeatedly asked to sign this petition, that petition, each with a point of view reduced to a single sentence. If we are not in favour of something, then we must be against it. Life is so much more complex than that. As writers, we know that only too well. It is the lifeblood of our fiction.

Reducing ideas or events to headlines insults us all. Without evidence, for and against, we are expected to make decisions. Even finding references which might explore subtleties requires time and effort - and thinking. Yet the giants of social media demand that we flit from soundbite to soundbite without engaging much in the way of cognitive effort.

What does this have to do with writing? Maybe not a lot - but my summer has shown that there is nothing to stop us stepping off the media roundabout and taking time to write and think.

But that doesn’t sell books. Social media is also our market place.


There is more about my travel writing at jocarroll.co.uk or you might try my novel, The Planter’s Daughter

2 comments:

Griselda Heppel said...

Yes, this is the downside of social media, especially the instant comment ones like Twitter and Snapchat. But discussions do take place on Facebook, don't they? The trouble is, everyone dives in and there are far too many people who enjoy the freedom to be brutal that anonymity gives them, and the whole social media world ends up sapping time and energy for not much return. Good for you, taking a breather from all that clamour and giving yourself valuable thinking time!

Umberto Tosi said...

So true. I applaud your taking time for contemplation. I would add that the social media in which our book marketing efforts are necessarily immersed are by nature reactive, not proactive. They get us and our visitors to click click click in response to stimuli. It's a good idea to think about what WE want from these platforms, beyond just gathering those clicks, and designing our entries accordingly, much as possible.